Selous Safari

Zanzibar, Tanzania

The hotel

The Selous Serena Camp’s Rufiji River location is the setting for many an adventure with exciting bush walks and game-drives but also boat safaris, taking you in search of hippos, crocodiles, and elephants, and even fishing trips in search of freshwater fighting fish. And, when you return, the raised and open-sided dining tent promises fine dining and even finer views, as it overlooks a watering hole, with its deck leading out to a fire pit and the camp’s gorgeous swimming pool.

Amenities

  • Bar
  • Safari
  • Swimming Pool
  • Internet Access

Where is it

Selous Serena Camp is located along the Rufiji River in the sprawling 55,000 hectares of the Selous Game Reserve. Located in the south-east of Tanzania, the Selous is a perfect addition to a stay on the island of Zanzibar, particularly for those flying-in via the Middle East. Flight time from Zanzibar Airport into the Selous: 2 hours 30 minutes.

Hotel information

12 spacious tents are spaced throughout the indigenous forest with private wooden decks facing towards the Rufiji River. Wild Africa with a twist of luxury, tents boast opulent furnishings including crisp linens, chandeliers, 4-poster beds and en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower and romantic Victorian claw-foot baths.

All Inclusive of: all meals, soft drinks and selected bottled beers, wines and spirits. Morning and afternoon game-drives and park entrance fees. A river cruise and bush walk is included once every three nights and a bush breakfast, candlelit dinner and sand bank sundowner experience is included once per stay.


Dining room serving breakfast and lunch (International dishes) and table d'hôte menus for dinner. Bush dining options* available. Lounge and safari bar. Library. Deck with fire-pit. Library. Infinity pool and sundeck. Game-drives and river boat safaris. Walking tours.

Price includes 3-night itinerary below, staying at Selous Serena Camp:

Day 1
Fly by light aircraft from Zanzibar Airport in to the Selous Game Reserve where you will be met and transferred to the camp. Afternoon game-drive. (D)
Days 2-3
At Selous Serena Camp with game-activities. (B/L/D)
Day 4
Light aircraft transfer back from the Selous to Zanzibar Airport for your onward flight arrangements. (B)

Rating summary

  • Location Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Sleep Quality Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Rooms Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Service Image of the Tripadvisor rating
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  • Cleanliness Image of the Tripadvisor rating

Traveller rating

  • Excellent (135)
  • Very good (12)
  • Average (3)
  • Poor (5)
  • Terrible (1)
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Just A Magical Experience

Oct 30, 2019 Penny L Binfield, United Kingdom

As you arrive at the camp you are struck by its romantic magical position overlooking a water hole, complete with its own infinity swimming pool. The "tents" are beautifully appointed and clean and at night you can hear the animals around you, in fact a local hippo walks right through the camp most evenings! From the moment that we arrived until… Read more
As you arrive at the camp you are struck by its romantic magical position overlooking a water hole, complete with its own infinity swimming pool. The "tents" are beautifully appointed and clean and at night you can hear the animals around you, in fact a local hippo walks right through the camp most evenings! From the moment that we arrived until the moment we left we were treated like royalty and at no point did we feel that this was false or forced. Our special thanks to Shabnam who looked after us so well including meeting us back from our safari's with cold towels anxious to hear about our days adventures The chef provides the most incredible 4 course meals which are served with place settings more akin to a top hotel in London and the staff mixing and serving drinks with more skill than many 5* hotels. When out on safari the chef provides an enormous picnic lunch which you eat in wonderful settings. On our last day we had a picnic by a lake and literally 5 mins before we ate there had been a 7 foot plus crocodile sitting there!.My husband Simon got a reputation as a cashew nut fiend and the chef was kind enough to send us off with a large bag when we left the camp The staff that are appointed to serve you give you wonderful personal attention - our thanks to Youseff and Jacob. Thank you also to Mohammed- camp night security who would escort us to our tent from dinner at night ( due to animals wandering through camp!) The game drives were magnificent. We had an incredible driver who was with us from the minute we arrived off our 12 seater plane at the airstrip to the moment we departed. Saeedy proved knowledgeable, an amazing driver in some very difficult conditions and was passionate about getting us to see all the animals we wanted to, often staying out with us longer than the normal 8 hours. The wonderful thing about Selous is that when you see the animals you are alone with them, no other vehicles so you can spend as long as you like without trying to get the ideal photo position through all the other 4 wheel drive vehicles( we have safari'd elsewhere in Africa and this is unlike anywhere else). Thank you Saeedy. We also did a river safari for 2.5 hrs though the sister hotel at no additional cost. We were so sad to leave this wonderful place and have no hesitation in recommending and would love to return. We do not understand why this place is not 5*. Well done to all of you - just keep doing what you are doing and your guests cannot fail to be impressed. We miss you all. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Lovely

Oct 24, 2019 harbial1 Witterswil, Switzerland

I stayed at the Camp for 3 wonderful nights. All was amazing. The Chef, Julius made incredible dishes and was kind enough to share a recipe with me. Our guide, Noah is an incredible driver and great guide and Emil took wonderful care of me and paid attention to every detail. Also notable was Mohammed for security and Sharis. I hope to visit… Read more
I stayed at the Camp for 3 wonderful nights. All was amazing. The Chef, Julius made incredible dishes and was kind enough to share a recipe with me. Our guide, Noah is an incredible driver and great guide and Emil took wonderful care of me and paid attention to every detail. Also notable was Mohammed for security and Sharis. I hope to visit again. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating First Safari - loved it.

Oct 18, 2019 Josh C Sheffield, United Kingdom

Having read a few of the negative reviews I'll do my best to address some of the points raised first: The camp is indeed deep in the 'bush' and about 1.5 hours/60km drive from Lake Tagalala, which the animals stick close to in the dry season. This depends purely on the time of year. If the long drive in a bumpy jeep or eating lunch in a remote… Read more
Having read a few of the negative reviews I'll do my best to address some of the points raised first: The camp is indeed deep in the 'bush' and about 1.5 hours/60km drive from Lake Tagalala, which the animals stick close to in the dry season. This depends purely on the time of year. If the long drive in a bumpy jeep or eating lunch in a remote location with pretty sparse WC facilities is likely to bother you, you probably want to choose a different safari. Being in the bush, you do also have tsetse flies at dawn/dusk when they are most active. They get you on the drives in/out but we didn't have any issues in the camp itself. It's also a good idea to take antihistamines with you as (unfortunately as my wife found out) allergic reactions to the bites are not out of the question. If you're like me, they'll bother you in the jeep but nowhere else - certainly not enough to ruin the safari. That said, I can only assume that complaints about the quality of accommodation have been listened to as the camp and our 'tent' (which had a claw-foot bath and chandelier) were immaculate. You are assigned a room attendant that cleans your tent every day. The pool was clean, the food was brilliant (and there was lots of it) and we were not charged a penny for anything on top of our prearranged price. I also read a review that said they didn't see any animals. Christ alone knows how. We were at Serena during the dry season when most of the animals are long distances from the camp. Even so, we had Hippos, Impala and Baboons visiting to drink from the small pool just below the camp bar. We were also awoken by camp security on our last day (due to just fly out, no safari) to be told that there were endangered painted dogs asleep in the car park! Cue a mad rush to get some clothes on and a small bonus safari (not more than 20/30 minutes from the camp) to see the dogs and a hyena. We also saw Zebra, Impala, Warthogs and Ground Hornbills close to the camp on a regular basis. Out on the all day safaris (and they are all day: from 7am til about 5/6pm. It's full-on, but completely worth it in my eyes) our guide Simon was brilliant, always ready to answer questions and brilliant at finding the animals. It's clear these guys take their work very seriously and love the area, the animals and what they do. There is a beautiful view point high up where we were lucky enough to watch Elephants taking a bath with their babies (we got much closer to Elephants a few other times as well, but that was the moment when they were least disturbed by us) and got VERY up close and personal with a pride of 14 Lions. When I say close, I mean CLOSE. The Lions do not see the jeeps as a threat or as prey, so you pretty much drive up to within 15 feet or so of them. They can (and did) then choose to come right up to the jeep. We also saw a failed Lion hunt along with too many Giraffes, Wildebeest, Buffalo, Zebra, Impala, assorted other antelopes, Hippos, Crocodiles, Warthogs, etc to count. For the bird lovers the highlights were the Fish Eagles (of which there are many) and Vultures (we saw a couple building a nest and a big group circling over a kill on our way back to the airstrip). In addition to the main safaris, we took the opportunity to do a nature walk (accompanied by a man with a rifle, as required by law) which was a completely different experience. Far less animals (any around get out of your way) but much more info on bush craft and other wildlife from the guide and great to experience the bush without the rumble of the jeep. We also took the opportunity to go on the river cruise. This was a far shorter day and is your best chance of seeing a Leopard in the cliffs (we didn't, but another group staying at the camp went the next way and did) and is definitely for you if your favourite animal is the Crocodile. To sum up: the scenery was amazing, the animals were better, the staff at the lodge itself are friendly and helpful, the food was excellent and the lodge was well kept. Overall it was an amazing experience and I definitely recommend it. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Incredible Experience!

Oct 1, 2019 adamblairgolden Dallas, Texas

From the moment we were picked up from Stieglers Airstrip, we had an incredible time. I have been on two other safaris in two other countries, but this one was one of a kind. Travel arrangements: first, you should know that you can only access this camp by taking a mini plane to the Stieglers Airstrip, where the camp will pick you up. There are… Read more
From the moment we were picked up from Stieglers Airstrip, we had an incredible time. I have been on two other safaris in two other countries, but this one was one of a kind. Travel arrangements: first, you should know that you can only access this camp by taking a mini plane to the Stieglers Airstrip, where the camp will pick you up. There are very strict luggage weight rules. The guide that is assigned to you for your stay will pick you up in an open jeep, and basically, your safari starts here! Even from the airstrip to the camp, you can see giraffes, zebra, impala, and other animals. You will check in at the camp and then, depending on the time of day you arrive, head out for a short safari ride. To note, while of course you can see some animals very close to camp, most of the BIG 5 and others are about an hour to an hour and a half away from camp. Camp Food/Drink and Common Areas: the pool is small, and clean and wonderful for a dip after your second safari of the day, if there is time of course. The wines they have to offer are very nice, as well as the liquor and beer selection. They have a couple of different Tanzanian beers you can enjoy. Wines are from South Africa. The dining space is very comfortable, and the lounge/deck, is also very, very nice. I loved sitting out on the deck and enjoying a drink after a long day of animal spotting. By far, the hidden gem of this camp is Chef Emmanuel. Freshest salads and dressings possible. Amazing soups, whether the broths or cold soups each one was unique and flavorful. Entrees were delicious, I had all types of meat (fish, chicken, lamb, beef) and each day it was difficult to decide. The accompaniments to the mains are also good. Fresh vegetables, breads, sauces. I could go on and on. For dessert you can choose the desert of the day which you wont be disappointed by, cheese or fruits. Coffee and tea of course. Even when you are in the bush for a meal, the chef prepares sandwiches and wraps for lunch or a nice breakfast with boiled eggs, chicken sausage, pancakes, pastries, fresh juice, and of course coffee or tea. There are also many vegetarian options. People here that made our stay so awesome were Sheria and Jacob. Tents: The tents are so clean. The linens are crisp and comfortable, as is the mattress. You will have an attendant for your tent for a couple of reasons. (1) to make sure you have anything and everything you want or need, and (2) because after dark you must be walked around camp due to the resident hippos. Yes, the camp is open, and not gated or fenced off. The bathroom facilities are at the back of the tent and there is both a shower and a large claw foot tub. The water pressure of the overhead shower is a little weak, but the hand held wand has a great deal of pressure. Plenty of hot water as well. Siobhan was our attendant, and he was so friendly and kind. I enjoyed chatting with him each day. To note, this camp is considered "primitive" as compared to the Serena River Camp, so there is not air conditioning (literally this has to be the only reason they say this, there is nothing primitive about it!). There are fans, and during our stay in mid-September, I found this was adequate at night. During the day it is a little stuffy. Safari Drives: The open air jeeps are comfortable, but the roads are typical of rural Africa, and are very bumpy. "Free African Massage" its part of the experience, but for some may be too much. Also, there are no doors on the safari jeeps, so having enough mobility to climb in and out is necessary. At the camp there are stairs that they pull up to so that boarding and unloading is very easy. If you are out in the bush though, its you and the jeep rails. As a logistic note, the jeeps do keep toilet paper, and should you need to, the guides will find you a safe place to let nature take its course. While I did not see any mosquitoes, there are plenty of tsetse flies, which also bite and will have a raised and very itchy bump in a few days. I would say that sleeves and pants and high socks help, but they will bite through your clothes. Repellant and a quick swat! Also, it is dusty, so if you have allergies, I recommend a face covering of some sort. Our last night there, we were taken for a sundowner event where we watched the sunset around a camp fire, and enjoyed some small bites and wine. This moment was magical. Our last morning we enjoyed a river safari by boat on the Rufigi River, departing from the Serena River Lodge. Must do. Animals: You will not see rhinos in Selous. However, that is literally about the only animal we didn't see. Elephants, hippos, giraffes, lions, zebra, water buffalo, wildebeest, water buck, warthogs, lilac breasted roller (100% my new favorite bird), crocodiles, baboons, hyena, rock hyrax, king fisher, fish eagle, osprey, and more. BUT, and the most exciting for me, was that we were able to see a leopard! Being my third safari I knew that this was not an animal that I should expect to see, but indeed we did. People: I have already mentioned several of the people that made our experience so memorable, and I am completely in debt to each of them. I have not yet talked about our safari field guides, Noah and Khalid. We had two because Khalid was finishing his training with Noah. Other groups only had one. I am inspired and in awe of both of them. They take their work very seriously, and if there was a bird, plant, or species that they were unfamiliar with, they would take a photo, and report back the next day. You could tell that they too were enjoying the safari drives. The way they studied the animal behavior and native flora and fauna is something I only see in the medical field (I am a nurse). It was like they were constantly doing continuing education. By the end of the trip, I felt as though I had added two brothers to my family. We said over and over, "Noah and Khalid have really made this trip." Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating A magical safari experience in the wilderness

Aug 4, 2019 Ricardo365 Tonbridge, United Kingdom

A Lifetime ambition to visit Selous was fulfilled at Serena. Miles from anywhere; in the heart of the bush and yet fantastic quality amenities, catering and service from all the staff. Make sure you bring small denominations notes for tips! Less than 1 hours flight into stieglers airstrip from Dar or Zanzibar; we were met by our superb guide Saaid… Read more
A Lifetime ambition to visit Selous was fulfilled at Serena. Miles from anywhere; in the heart of the bush and yet fantastic quality amenities, catering and service from all the staff. Make sure you bring small denominations notes for tips! Less than 1 hours flight into stieglers airstrip from Dar or Zanzibar; we were met by our superb guide Saaid and enjoyed our first morning game drive en Route to the lodge with lots of animals and birds to view in the immediate vicinity, such as zebras, impala, warthog and giraffe. Always a Friendly welcome at camp with cold towels and drinks followed by lunch in the amazing bar restaurant - overlooking the refreshing swimming pool and river. Every meal has 6 courses with traditional, modern and vegetarian options. Really tasty and varied. Recently refurbished, Beautifully appointed tented cabins in 1920s period style with everything you need - dedicated staff member arranges turn down laundry etc for you. At night the hippos emerge from the river (also crocodiles by day) and absolutely incredible views of the Milky Way and stars above. The security guard escorts you to your room at night. Lovely to listen to the sounds of the bush around you. On longer safaris (to seek out lions elephants etc round the lake areas ) you have picnics out in the bush. You rarely see another vehicle so it’s truly a very authentic wild experience. Biting Flies were a minor annoyance in some areas of the park but there were none at the lodge. On game drives, long sleeves, tracking style ripstop trousers and a hat help keep them off, as repellent alone doesn’t. After 2 nights We moved on to the sister lodge at Mivumo where the river cruises are based - see separate review 4 nights in the Selous was perfect A truly Magical experience - go before it gets spoilt. Read less